Now that Week 3 of the NFL is behind us, we have a better sense of the league and the season looking ahead. We can begin to see which teams are good, which ones are duds, and which teams are a surprise contender no one saw coming. The dust starts to settle and storylines begin to develop. Here are my takeaways from the NFL after Week 3 .
For starters, this is the year of the young. Mostly, it’s rookie and first-time starting quarterbacks that are taking the NFL by storm but in Dallas, there is also a rookie running back stealing the show and literally leaping over the competition. From first-time starting QBs like Jimmy Garoppolo and Trevor Siemian to rookies Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Jacoby Brissett and even Cody Kessler, young quarterbacks are leading their teams to wins and at the very least in Kessler’s case, giving hope to a fan base that the future is bright. In many instances this season, injuries have thrust these young QBs into the spotlight. Injury helped Wentz, Prescott, Brissett and Kessler get starting jobs, while Siemian inherited his starting position as Peyton Manning’s successor. Garoppolo started in place of a suspended Tom Brady before being replaced by Brissett due to an injury he suffered in Week 2. When Brady returns Garoppolo will resume life as a backup, but New England looks like it has Brady’s successor already on their roster while Brissett just showed 31 other NFL teams he can quarterback in this league. As for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, they very well may have their new franchise quarterbacks in their rookie QBs.
There will be no QB controversy in Philly because they are all-in on the Wentz wagon, but Dallas may be benching Tony Romo once he is healthy to let a young Prescott lead the team along with his rookie running mate Ezekiel Elliott. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos look primed to head back to the Super Bowl behind their young QB and suffocating defense after Siemian threw for over 300 yards and four TDs in Week 3.
Newton was sacked eight times, threw three interceptions, and WR Kelvin Benjamin had no receptions whatsoever.
Something is wrong with the Carolina Panthers. After falling in Week 1 to the defending champion Broncos, I could see the Panthers being disappointed in the loss, but not being alarmed because like Cam Newton mentioned in his postgame press conference, “They are the defending champions for a reason”. Add a Week 2 win against the San Francisco 49ers and it would seem as if the reigning NFC champions were back on track. But losing at home against the Minnesota Vikings minus a Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson is cause for concern.
No shade to the Vikings who have a stout defense and will stay competitive despite their injuries under head coach Mike Zimmerman. But the Panthers are (were) an elite team and should have easily beaten a team without their best QB and RB. However, Newton was sacked eight times, threw three interceptions, and WR Kelvin Benjamin had no receptions whatsoever. The Panthers were dominated in all phases of the game. Now Carolina was great last year, out of the blue, but they haven’t been a historically good team. They have already lost twice as many games as they did all last season and although no one expected them to go 15-1 again, they were expected remain elite and a favorite in the NFC—especially with Benjamin’s return to the offense. So far, the Panthers are playing well below expectations. There aren’t many teams that can overcome the Broncos’ defense but the Panthers single win this season came against the 49ers which isn’t a great measuring stick for them. When facing a good defense at home the Panthers did little to resist the beating they took. Not only was their offensive line exposed, but so was their defense that was excellent a season ago, yet failed to contain a Sam Bradford led Vikings team begging the question, are the Panthers any good this season?
Eli Manning is holding the New York Giants back from actually being a good team. I know Manning is a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and a two-time Super Bowl MVP, but he also is also prone to throwing the ball to the other team. Eli threw two interceptions in the Giants’ 29-27 loss to the Washington Redskins, literally throwing away their chance at a game-winning drive. Manning is five years removed from winning the Super Bowl and what he did in the past will not help the Giants remain relevant now. They need wins, and multiple INTs won’t give them any. With an elite receiver like Odell Beckham Jr., the return of Victor Cruz and an impressive defense the team paid $200 million for, the Giants should be contending for a title. Instead, their potential is being stifled by Eli’s mistakes. Beckham had seven receptions for 121 yards and would have had more if Manning had seen him every time he was open. The organization has taken steps to put a better team around Manning but they will not become a true contender again until Manning decides to be a little more conservative with the ball.
He has everything you want in a quarterback. He can read defenses, change plays at the line of scrimmage, run when a play breaks down, throw on the run and is accurate down the field.
Finally, count me as someone on the Wentz wagon. This guy is the real deal, the second coming, everything Andrew Luck was supposed to be coming into the league. From rumors he watches game film on dates, to leading (with an emphasis on leading) the Eagles to a 3-0 start, Carson Wentz is by far the best QB in his rookie class. Behind Wentz and a good defense, the Eagles have already put themselves in the conversation as true title contenders. In three starts Wentz has thrown for 769 yards has five touchdowns and a passer rating of 103.8 He has everything you want in a quarterback. He can read defenses, change plays at the line of scrimmage, run when a play breaks down, throw on the run and is accurate down the field. The guy has been flawless thus far but that will inevitably change. However, he is having one of the best starts to an NFL career as any rookie QB ever. He is the first rookie quarterback to have zero interceptions in 100 pass attempts and the first to throw 30+ passes in his first three games. Wentz and the Eagles are no flukes either, three games isn’t the largest sample size, but they aren’t just getting lucky against the competition. The Eagles’ point differential is +15 in their 3-0 start—just like their quarterback, they’re actually really good.